Misleading CNN Information

Yesterday, CNN’s Erica Hill was following a story about 2 pit bulls who got loose and killed a woman in while she slept. My first complaint is citing statistics without saying from where they originated. Only because the of rebuttal guest pointing out the study was based on media reporting incidents rather than police reporting am I able to guess this CDC study (PDF may require additional software) is the one.

The numbers cited by CNN sounded outrageous. Out of 238 deaths, pit bulls were supposedly responsible for 105 (over a 20 year period). It was so outrageous because german shepards, the next highest, were responsible for only 17. Well… the actual study says pit bulls were responsible for 66 deaths and rottweilers for 39 deaths and german shepards for 17 deaths.

Interestingly the authors of the study have these points about legislation for laws restricting the ownership of violent breeds:

  1. fatal attacks have been relatively stable over time (inconsistent with Erica’s question “Why have these attacks increased lately?”, funny given the study is based in large part on media coverage).
  2. different breeds were the dangerous dogs at different points of their study.

At least the mistake got me to read and understand the issue a little better.

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